Gymnastics Drills for Back Handsprings
Back handsprings are an essential tumbling skill, forming the foundation for complex tumbling moves and more advanced skills, including tucks, flips and aerial exercises. Perfecting the back handspring can be challenging. This skill requires strength, flexibility and confidence and may take months of consistent training and practice to learn and perfect.
Some basic exercises at home or at the gym can help develop the strength and flexibility required for back handsprings. Do handstands at home, either against the wall or free standing. Take time for pushups and situps daily to strengthen the abdominal, back and shoulder muscles. Hold a 5-lb. weight or a pair of 5-lb. weights during workouts in each hand and lift straight up above your head to work key arm and shoulder muscles.
Several drills can help to prepare you for a back handspring. Stand slightly away from a wall, leaving enough room for your thighs, and slide into a wall sit. This will help to develop a feel for the correct positioning of the starting movement of the back handspring. Work on back limbers over a rounded half-circle mat to develop the muscles and movement needed in your back for the trick. Practice jumping backward onto a mat or into a pit of foam blocks to build your confidence when you push off the ground.
Learning the Back Handspring
Depending upon your gym, you may start back handsprings on the floor, trampoline or a wedge mat. You may use a mat for support on the floor or trampoline and the coach will spot, or help support you, through back handsprings as you learn to do them independently. To do a back handspring, you'll stand with arms in front of you or above your head and spring backwards while arching your back. Keep your back arched until your arms hit the floor, then spring in a hollow position from your hands to your feet, ending with your feet together and arms in front.
Building on Skills
Once you can do a back handspring with a mat, you'll begin to work on a round-off back handspring, gradually reducing your mat thickness until you can do a round-off back handspring on the floor and eventually a standing back handspring on the floor. Once you can do a standing back handspring, you'll learn to do more than one in a row for tumbling passes, then build on these skills. Do back handsprings regularly to maintain the strength and flexibility you need.
With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.